Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

Reader 2

Minxin Pei

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© 2024 Letian Wang


The South China Sea (SCS) dispute is a longstanding territorial conflict involving several surrounding states. In this paper, I analyze the differences in China’s policies towards the Philippines and Vietnam as China exerts its expansion into the SCS using relevant International Relations theories. The Philippines’ democratic values, alliance with the U.S., small-scale volume of trade with China, and active strategies against China all contradict China’s interests to be the regional hegemonic power. In contrast, Vietnam’s socialist regime, alliance with China, substantial trade with China, and passive strategies do not contradict China’s interests as much and even comply with them. Hence, China has adopted much more aggressive strategies on the Philippines than on Vietnam in the SCS dispute.